Does nixing pistol registration mandate ease access?

Posted at 5:58 PM, May 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-08 17:58:36-04

WYOMING, Mich. — If you buy a pistol in Michigan, should you be required to register it with the state?

A Michigan lawmaker has drafted legislation that aims to eliminate the state’s pistol registration mandate.

Under current state law, in order to buy a pistol, an individual must have obtained a permit to purchase it by passing a federal background check.

Mike Visser, a training instructor with Silver Bullet Firearms in Wyoming, says it's unnecessary for gun owners to register their pistols, considering what they must go through to purchase it in the first place.

Eliminating the registration mandate doesn’t allow anyone to purchase a gun who couldn’t before, he said.

“You’ve already gone through a federal background investigation here when you buy a gun from us," Visser said. "Why are there these extra steps that a law-abiding person has to go through?"

The registration mandate applies only to handguns, not long guns or hunting rifles.

Republican state Rep. Lee Chatfield of Levering introduced the bill which would make registration optional. A $250 fine for not registering would be eliminated. Chatfield argues Michigan’s requirement does little to fight crime and the government has no need for a “list of law-abiding citizens who legally purchase pistols.”

Moms Demand Action of Michigan, a group advocating for stronger gun control, did not respond to requests for comment on the legislation.

Visser acknowledges the idea of being able to track guns if one is ever stolen or used in a crime is well-intentioned but flawed.

"The problem is that the firearms used at crime scenes and left behind are usually not tied to the original owner that it's registered to," he said. "These guns are going to be stolen, brought from out of state where no registration was ever done on them, so it’s really not helping anything.”

If the proposal were to pass, individuals currently registered would be given the option to un-list themselves from the state-managed database.

The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Judiciary. It would need to pass the full House, full Senate and be approved by Gov. Rick Snyder to become law.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.